Canadian Blood Services announced today that they’re instituting new rules for donating blood following the global Zika virus outbreak.
If you’ve travelled outside of Canada, the continental United States, or Europe, you will have to delay donating blood for three weeks after returning from your trip. The new rules come into effect on Friday, February 5.
The 21-day waiting period is to ensure enough time has passed for the virus to leave a person’s bloodstream.
“This new temporary deferral period will safeguard Canada’s blood supply against the Zika virus, and will also help us protect against other similar mosquito-borne viruses,” said Dr. Dana Devine, chief medical officer at Canadian Blood Services.
The same rules apply to cord blood and stem cell donors.
With that said, Canadian Blood Services notes the risk of a Canadian donor transmitting the Zika virus to a blood recipient is very low.
Canadian Blood Services fears these new rules will reduce the number of donors and ask all eligible Canadians to consider donating blood.
The WHO recently declared the Zika virus outbreak a global emergency. The virus is quickly spreading throughout Brazil and other nearby Central and South American countries. The virus is transmitted through mosquito bites, and the particular species that carries it is unable to survive in colder Canadian climates.
Zika virus is especially risky for pregnant women and can cause severe birth defects.
There have been two reported cases of Zika virus in B.C., and both patients made a full recovery. The individuals picked up the virus when they travelled to affected countries.